Those who engage in estate planning nearly always do so with their loved ones in mind. They want to minimize financial burdens for their families, and, in many cases, they also want to prevent inheritance disputes from arising.
To prevent estate litigation involving inheritance designations, many Seattle, Washington residents often decide to add a no-contest clause to their will. Do these clauses work, and do you need one in your will?
What is a no-contest clause?
Typically, such a clause states that if any of your heirs contest your will and lose, they will receive nothing. These clauses are meant to deter those you leave behind from fighting over your estate and its assets. In most cases, people include a no-contest clause because they want their family to move forward after they die with as little animosity as possible.
Are no-contest clauses enforceable?
In most cases, these clauses do not hold up well in the eyes of the law. For example, say you have three daughters, and you leave the bulk of your estate to only two of your daughters. The third one may still challenge your will despite your no-contest clause. In other words, an heir with standing usually has the right to challenge a will regardless of your wishes.
Educate yourself about your options
It is smart to plan for the possibility that your heirs might disagree with your beneficiary designations. However, you need not rely on a no-contest clause to prevent disputes. Estate planning gives you a wealth of options (trusts, etc.) to choose from when addressing beneficiary designations. Learning more about estate planning and litigation matters also helps you make wise decisions involving your estate and your family.